Membership to the Congressional Black Caucus is being denied to Representative Byron Donalds of Florida.
Speaking to CNN, Donalds said "As a black man in America I am allowed to have my own thoughts on who I choose to support and who I choose not to support."
"I've had the ability to advocate for issues, ideas, proposals, and funding that have helped the black community in my state," and touted his education at an HBCU.
He said "This is about whether the ideology of someone who is conservative is welcome in the Congressional Black Caucus, it's really that simple."
Representatives elected in 2020 who became members were inducted six months ago now, and Donalds, who won his seat last year and expressed interest in joining the group, was not included, Buzzfeed News reports.
Donalds' office said that he had spoken with at least three members about joining the CBC, but has yet to receive an answer back now a quarter of the way through the 117th Congress.
"Congressman Donalds has expressed interest in joining the CBC, but has yet to receive an official invitation," said one of Donalds’ aides. "If given, he'd gladly accept."
Black Republican members of Congress have had a tenuous history with the group. Senator Tim Scott declined an invitation to the group back in 2010 after first being elected to Congress as a Representative from South Carolina.
Former Rep. Mia Love said in 2012 she wanted to join dismantle the group, adding that the group wanted to "ignite racism," only to turn around and join the group in 2015.
The Congressional Black Caucus currently has no Republican members.
The Florida GOP tweeted on Wednesday night that "The Congressional Black Caucus is afraid of Black men who speak freely and think differently from them."
Donalds told Politico in February he wanted to join the group to change the dominant Democrat leaning voice within the Caucus.
"Obviously, the dominant voice in the CBC tends to be Democrat or liberal voices, and I want to bring change to that," said Donalds.
"Yes, I'm a conservative Republican, but I think in the Black community, we have a wide range of political thought. It doesn't always get talked about, but it exists."
Although the CBC doesn't have rules against Republicans joining the group, another group within the Tri-Caucus, which is comprised of the Congressional Black Caucus, Congressional Hispanic Caucus, and Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, does.
The CHC's bylaws are written to exclude non-Democrats from the group. In 2017, the group denied membership to the former Rep. Carlos Curbelo of Florida.
"Per Congressional Hispanic Caucus bylaws, all Democratic Members of Congress of Hispanic descent are eligible for CHC membership," stated a CHC spokesperson.
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